Student housing coming downtown after agreements with the city

The developers will fund infrastructure improvements near their sites.

Two student housing developers’ projects can go forward after the developers and the city struck infrastructure agreement deals.

A Conley Avenue complex managed by Collegiate Housing Partners received the green light from the city. City Council also approved an agreement with the Opus Group, which is planning to build a development on Locust Street.

A third American Campus Communities agreement was tabled due to electrical concerns. Their development requires 5 megawatts of electricity, which the city cannot provide by the complex’s projected fall 2016 open date. Earlier estimates had a 2.5 megawatt figure, which was incorrect.

“Initially, when we reviewed their submitted needs in terms of electrical capacity, they had said they needed 2.5 megawatts worth of electric,” Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine said. “The current capacity is unable to support that new requirement by 2016.”

American Campus Communities requested the agreement be tabled for two months, St. Romaine said.

According to the agreement presented to council Wednesday for American Campus Communities, the city will be required to construct system improvements to meet the service demands of the completed project.

The other projects have come up with agreements to help pay for the infrastructure improvements needed to support the developments.

“These (development) agreements are contributing a larger share to that effort, which is something they’re not legally required at this point in time,” St. Romaine said. “Certainly with these discussions we’ve had with council lately about developers paying a larger portion of the infrastructure upgrades, this was thought to be a reasonable contribution to that effort.”

College Housing Partners is contributing $150,000 to the reconstruction of a main city sewer line and American Campus Communities, if approved, would pay $300,000 to the same sewer line and $300,000 to water lines. Additionally, Opus is contributing $200,000 to the sewer and $250,000 to upgrade some water lines, according to the agreement reached between the developers and the city.

The funding divisions were based off of how many beds by each development would be contributing, St. Romaine said. But the development agreements don’t solve the city’s infrastructure woes.

“It basically fixed the sewer at their particular location. However, it does not fix the bigger, more enterprise sewer system that directs sewage from downtown into a main line that runs all the way down the MKT Trail to the wastewater treatment plant,” St. Romaine said. “The whole project itself is about a $6.75 million project. (Staff and council) still need to find a way to fund the bigger project.”

St. Romaine said the Opus and Collegiate Housing developments would also place an electrical demand on the city system that would not allow the city to provide much additional electricity beyond the next three years.

Council will decide on the American Campus Communities development in May and will be looking for other ways to fund the upgrades.

“Council will be looking potentially at some ballot issues, potentially at some increases and potentially some assessments against developers with impact fees (as a) way to help fund some of these infrastructure needs,” St. Romaine said.

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